Dawson, Vanier colleges move most final exams online due to coronavirus

A female student works on her laptop next to lockers at Dawson College in Montreal. Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press

A pair of English-language CEGEPs in Montreal have decided to move most in-person exams to online for the fall semester due to COVID-19.

Dawson College says all exams will take place virtually — except for “those with an essential in-person practical component.”

“In response to new guidelines from the Higher Education Ministry and public health department with respect to a period of voluntary confinement, as well as important logistical constraints, Dawson College will shift nearly all final examinations to online platforms,” said academic dean Diane Gauvin in a statement.

Vanier College has followed suit, with a spokesperson confirming the change Friday afternoon in an email to Global News.

“Vanier College has examined its exam schedule and will be moving most of end of term exams online, except for a few technical programs where students must demonstrate in person certain abilities with specific equipment,” the statement reads.

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READ MORE: Dawson College students want final exams moved to online only

The Quebec government has asked those who plan to gather during a four-day period for the holidays in December to quarantine the week before and after to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. In order to do this, the province has modified the holiday schedules for elementary and high schools, including a distance-learning component.

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As a result, students at Dawson College demanded that all exams be moved online so that they can voluntarily self-isolate leading up to Christmas. The exam schedule ends Dec. 23.

Gauvin said the “online environment is far from ideal,” but the college says measures will be rolled out to “preserve the academic integrity of final examinations taking place on online platforms.

“It is a compromise made in an exceptional situation,” Gauvin said, adding that teaching staff has been working hard to offer the “best education possible under very difficult circumstances.”

“We look forward to conducting our courses and examinations in person again as soon as the health situation makes it possible.”

READ MORE: Quebec will prohibit holiday gatherings if coronavirus cases ‘increase too much’

The Dawson Student Union applauded the change on social media, saying it had worked tirelessly to move exams online. In a video, chairperson Kevin Contant-Holowatyj thanked students for their efforts over the past few days.

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“This would have not been possible without each and every one of you,” he said.

Danielle McCann, the minister responsible for higher education, said universities and CEGEPs have a certain amount of autonomy but she did ask academic institutions to look at “how they could adjust the calendar or have online learning” to adapt to the voluntary quarantine before the holidays.

She said the period “necessitates” that Quebecers diminish their contact with others “as much as possible” if they plan to see each other for Christmas in order to stem the tide of COVID-19.

“It’s not an easy matter and we have to adjust because the situation is evolving,” McCann said.

Click to play video: 'Holding in-person exams is a contradiction, students argue'
Holding in-person exams is a contradiction, students argue

With files from Global News’ Tim Sargeant

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